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Published on July 14, 2020

What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By

What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By

“You complete me!” It sounds like a sappy phrase from a romantic movie.

Sometimes, however, we do have experiences that make us feel that way.

Imagine the feeling you have after eating a delicious meal and biting into an equally decadent dessert. Or imagine you are at the end of a beautiful day, maybe on vacation, when one seemingly perfect moment unfolded after the next.

A friend of mine described this feeling after having her third child. In that moment, she said their family felt complete.

The feeling of life being complete can be like deep peace, appreciation for all that we have and all that we are, with no other wishes in the moment. It can bring a sense of being home.

As we go through life, we are constantly being bombarded by messages about what we need or how we can make our lives better.

However, the feeling of completeness is not about reaching some outer goal that we can check off our list. Instead, it’s something that happens internally and is very personal.

So, what is a complete life?

Ask Yourself This Question

It’s important to ask:

What does living a complete life mean to you?

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Have you ever experienced a feeling of your life seeming to be complete, even if only for a moment?

My personal belief is that when we experience a sense of completeness, we are being present, grateful, and connected to our unique, inner essence.

By essence, I mean that energy or spark you have within you than no one else on the face of the earth does or ever will.

I believe living a complete life means being you—the real you.

What Is Completeness, Really?

There are so many different ways we experience this essence or gift—our most authentic selves.

We see this essence in action when someone is doing something he or she truly loves to do. Their eyes light up, a smile crosses their face, they are completely focused on the moment, doing what they love to do and being who they really are.

We witness the same radiant energy when we look at a piece of art by someone who was completely in flow when creating it.

We see it in a child when s/he is completely focused and experiencing the joy of playing with a toy, rolling in the sand, or expressing delight about whatever is happening in the moment.

While we all have the ability to experience this sense of completeness, it doesn’t happen automatically.

It requires being able to let go, even for a split second, and connecting with that energy within that has no words. It is already complete just as it is, unique and almost magical.

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How Do We Live a Complete Life?

How do we go from navigating the responsibilities of the day-to-day—working, paying bills, trying to eat healthy, exercising, connecting with the outer world, and keeping our relationships humming along, while also feeling this sense of wholeness and completeness? What is a complete life?

The answers are different for each of us, but in my experience, the following five rules can help.

1. Choose Self-Compassion and Empathy

So often we are taught that the only way we can succeed or attain true happiness is if we learn to do things better than other people or when we achieve our personal best.

What if, however, instead of so much focus on life in competitive terms, we instead experimented with compassion?

One of the greatest teachers I have ever had the privilege of studying with when it comes to training in empathy and self-compassion is the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron.

Pema teaches a simple technique called tonglen meditation[1]. In a nutshell, tonglen meditation is training in letting go of the hard-ness of judgement, and accessing the soft spot of empathy and compassion.

The important thing about empathy is to remember that just as we are each unique, we are also always connected with each other because we are all human.

The ability to truly feel compassion for ourselves and deep empathy for others not only makes our current relationships better, it can also help us to attract new relationships that are truly authentic and fulfilling.

2. Be Vulnerable in Order to Stretch and Grow

We receive so many messages from marketers that we would be happier and more successful if we were more perfect. The truth is, perfection is not a goal that any of us can attain.

While none of us are perfect, we are all capable of enormous change, transformation, and growth.

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When we shift our perspective to seeing life as an adventure, an opportunity to grow and learn, and adopt a growth mindset[2], we begin experiencing the joy that only comes from stretching.

In this way, living a full, complete life isn’t about achieving specific goals, but rather about discovering new ways to connect with that part of ourselves that is unique, complete, changing, growing, and expanding all the time.

The ability to stretch and grow helps us to experience life as a series of complete moments rather than an end goal unto itself.

3. Give Back and Help Others

We each have something unique to offer the world. Research shows that knowing that the small role we play is making a positive difference makes us happier and healthier[3] and has a positive effect on our resilience[4].

Ask yourself if there is one simple way you could make someone’s life better today. Pay attention to what you choose.

When we find a way to make a difference that also resonates with our unique gifts and who we really are, we reach a new level of fulfillment.

Your unique way of helping may light the way to a greater sense of purpose that could help make your life feel more complete.

4. Listen to Your Intuition

For years, I have been studying and teaching ways we can each access our intuition more easily. I am often amazed both by how easily we can each access answers for our lives when we take a quiet moment to connect.

We receive so many messages about what is right and wrong that we often forget to tune into and trust ourselves. By simply sitting in silence or meditating on an open-ended question, however, we can easily and effortlessly gain powerful insights about what is right for us in our lives.

Other ways to access our intuition include journaling, writing down our dreams, listening to how our body feels when we are around certain people or doing certain tasks, and asking ourselves specific questions about what we need most and paying attention to the first thing that pops into our mind.

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Our intuition can be a powerful guide to finding unexpected stops along the way, treasures we would have never known were available to us if we hadn’t trusted our inner wisdom.

5. Do What You Love

Research shows that when we do what we love, and do that in a state of flow, we find our way not only to happiness, but also to greater success and overall well-being[5].

You don’t have to do what you love as a career. You don’t even have to be good at it. Making time for activities you love, without any thought to where they are taking you, can make a huge difference in your life.

If you aren’t sure what you love to do, there are many books about finding your passion and spending time in flow and being creative, including Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck and Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar.

Honoring our passions not only helps us to connect with our unique essence, but it also helps us find our unique paths to living lives that honor all of who we are.

Doing more of what we love can also pave the way to new hobbies or careers that can help our lives feel more complete.

Final Thoughts

What is a complete life for you? Trust your own answers.

What do you think about the idea of having a unique essence that no one else has? What makes you feel most in sync, connected, and alive?

Look back over the 5 rules above. Which one excites you most? Which one do you think might have the greatest positive impact on your life right now?

Pick one of the rules above and start today. You are already on your way!

More Articles on Living a Complete Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Laurie Smith

Inspirational Writer. Coach. Healer.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

“Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

1. Make a Gratitude List

In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

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The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

2. Write in a Journal

Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

3. Meditate

Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

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Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

4. Do Child’s Pose

Yoga Outlet says:

“Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

     

    Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

    5. Try Positive Self-Talk

    Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

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    When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

    Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

    When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

    When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

    Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

    6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

    Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

    You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

    It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

    Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

    If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

    7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

    “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

    If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

    You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

    When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

    If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

    Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

    Final Thoughts

    If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

    Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

    You can invest in yourself via self-care.

    You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

    More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

    Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

    Reference

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